Sunday Shorts – “A Holiday Ruse,” by Stephanie Hoyt

CoverKezia’s been harbouring feelings for Magdalena for what feels like an eternity. She’s made peace with that. But when her happily committed best friend is suddenly single, that peace is disturbed. Especially when Magdalena comes to Kezia asking for a huge, unreasonable favour. Kezia doesn’t know how to say no, even though she knows she should. Will she be able to maintain her composure while helping the broken-hearted Magdalena? Or will pretending to have the girl of her dreams only lead to a broken heart of her own?

I loved this holiday fake-relationship/hidden-feelings romance. A Holiday Ruse had the perfect narrative voice in Kezia, who is head-over-heels for her friend, Mags, and who will never say so because Mags is her best friend and is dating this girl she’s madly in love with.

And then they break up. And then Mags asks her to take on the role—just for pretend, of course—of girlfriend for the Christmas and Wedding that’s impending among her giant family, and how could Kezia say no?

Well, easily, according to her brother (who is also her only family, and I liked that: there was a lovely contrast between Mags’s giant family and Kezia’s just-her-and-her-brother one), but Kezia has a habit of putting her feelings second and letting herself get hurt, so she says yes.

What follows is a fun, fluffy, bright, snow-covered romp of a romance with just the right notes, and a great lead-up to the declaration and aw, I was just warm all over. It’s a romance type I also love to read that you don’t get to see often these days, which is to say it ends with said declaration and kisses, rather than a smouldering pile of erotic content (which I do also like, but it’s nice to have variety, frankly, and sometimes I just want something just like this). Also, Hoyt gets a big thumbs up for bi rep, women of colour, and serious cookie decorating.

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